Imaginary Dialogue Between Queen Elizabeth II and Pope Francis

-Good morning, Your Majesty.
-We are pleased to meet you, Your Holiness.
-Allow me to offer you a present.
-How kind of you.
-It is an etching given to me a few years ago by an expatriated Argentinian citizen residing in the United States. It is a one-of-a-kind document: a sketch of some islands that thirty years ago were a casus belli between the United Kingdom and Argentina. <img150|center>

Pope Francis’ coat of arms

<img151|center>

<img152|center>

Imaginary Dialogue Between
Queen Elizabeth II and Pope Francis

CARTE DES ILES MALOUINES

-It was a tragic episode; but this etching seems to be much older.
-Indeed. It has no date, but it is almost certain that it’s been traced in the mid-eighteenth century by some anonymous cartographer.
-Back then, our Kingdom ruled the seas and Argentina didn’t exist.
– Britannia Rules the Waves, as I recall was the saying taught to me when I was studying English at the Buenos Aires British Cultural Association.
-Francis, in 1982 the motto was no longer true but this other one was: Argentina waived the rules.
-Ma’am, you’re right in your witticism. As a soul shepherd I can’t agree with the use of force, even when people believe to have justification.
-As sovereign I believe force must always be the last reason and never the first. Ultima ratio, said the Romans.
-However, in the past your Kingdom and my Church, just like the Romans, abused of their force. My country’s military commanders thought they had exhausted the diplomatic procedures for the islands’ eventual return to Argentina.
-Francis, they knew as much as we did that it wasn’t like that. What they had exhausted was their people’s patience because of the excesses they’d committed; waving the flag was a political action.
-So was the Iron Lady’s response, whose internal difficulties could be forgotten with a major war in the antipodes.
-In my long reign I have learned one thing: when politicians wave flags honor becomes a veil covering their wallets.
-I believe it was one of your countrymen who said: ¨patriotism is the last lair of those who have no shame¨.
-The phrase is actually from a renowned writer of ours, Samuel Johnson, who wrote in 1775: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”
-And one of ours, also very renowned, Jorge Luis Borges (Georgie, in English to his friends) stated, before the hostilities, that the dispute over the Falklands was a quarrel between two bald men over a comb.
-But after the hostilities it’s very hard to joke about it.
-As a priest I very well know that a sacrifice of blood makes a cause become sacred.
-Every war, Francis, has a sacred dimension. There is no greater measure of devotion than giving one’s life. Today even sacrifice has been cheapened: there are martyrs everywhere and for anything. That’s why bloodshed must be avoided.
-True religion is that which overcomes blood sacrifice and not the one that triggers it.
-Once again we agree. After all, we are both keepers of the faith. Of all my titles, this one pleases me the most: “ Elizabeth II Dei Gratia Regina Fidei Defensor. ”
-In today’s world, infected with terrorism, and in the one we’ve always had, fighting to death has given meaning to pointlessness.
-I’ll confess something to you, Francis: before the invasion, my Kingdom was about to scuttle the war fleet and the British Treasury, as to favor the economy, wanted us to let go of the Falkland Islands’ possession.
-Are you saying that, with patience, Argentinians would’ve been able to see the Falklands finally become Malvinas?
-Due to State affairs I cannot give you a yes-or-no answer but I can tell you that honor comes before interest, and even a former power cannot be submissive when it comes to bullying.
-Nor can the defeated forget their fallen comrades.
-We all know what happened next.
-And the outcome was pain, intransigence and stagnation.
-Let’s also not forget the multiple ironies.
-Let’s make a list:
-1. Your Majesty’s Navy owes the Argentinian generals to have averted its demise.
-2. The Argentinean people owe the British forces being able to get a group of murderers off their back.
-3. Mrs. Thatcher, friend of dictator Pinochet, caused the return of democracy in Argentina.
-4. The islands’ kelpers –normally ignored- owe the postwar a better standard of living: schools, paved roads, and generous subsidies.
-As I frequently say in Rome: The Lord leads us through surprising and unknown roads.
-Let’s get back to the etching.
-It is a navigational chart entitled ¨Carte des Iles Malouines¨. The French cartographer (some say he was Etienne André Philippe de Pretot in 1771) drew a vague sketch, since the islands had not been thoroughly explored yet, and made two observations: points A and B.
-I see. They seem to be written in old French.
-In fact they are. I read:

CARTE DES ILES MALOUINES
Nommés par les Anglois, Iles Falkland
A: Lieu ou etoit l’établissement François occupé aujour d’hui par les Espagnols.

-And how about in the bottom right corner?

Les points B sont ceux ou l’on soupçone que les Anglois sont établis.

-The interpretation is clear. The islands were discovered by the fishermen of St. Malo, from the cost of Normandy, who named it. After the Spanish arrived, they adopted their own version of the name: Malvinas. They settled in a bay the kelpers had named Baye Françoise. Then came the British navy, who settled in another bay to the northwest.
-It means that from its human beginnings, these islands were multinational, multilingual and ambiguous even in their cartographic determination.
-That is why I beg you ma’am for us to go back in time in this discussion to a period prior to human diversity and ambiguity.
-Do you mean when it was just inhabited by penguins?
-And not just penguins, but the colonies of so many sea birds and, on and off its shores, sea lions, elephant seals, blue whales, and countless fish.
-Nowadays –my son Charles says, a passionate environmentalist – many of these species are threatened.
-The Magellanic penguin is on its way to extinction. And the entire natural food chain is affected by contamination, global warming and overfishing.
-All human deeds.
-From a humanity that shows no respect for Creation. So why don’t we make protecting these helpless beings a common mission to establish the foundations for a long-lasting peace?
-The issue interests me, but it doesn’t interest our respective governments.
-That’s true, there aren’t any statesmen anymore but politicians who feel the obligation to manage in the short-term, to think of the next election.
-But neither of us is subject to the haste of these times.
-We’ve been anointed, not chosen.
-Our positions are for life which, in our case, is now coming to an end.
-That’s why, being elders, we can afford to think of our grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.
-I hope in your case, Francis, this will only be a spiritual legacy.
-Of course. Not long ago I had a dream –perhaps sent from heaven, or from the memory of my home country.
-Can you share it with me?
-I saw my home country turned into a land of prosperity and peace, without tension among its citizens. After forgiving one another they started a process of transparency and reconciliation with your Majesty, inspired by Nelson Mandela. That’s how they had attained the return of the islands that were finally acknowledged by geographic and historic heritage.
-Just like that?
-Only after a long and difficult process of collaboration in common defense.
-Defense against who?
-Against the current world, the environment’s predator. Our two war navies had managed to end the blockade together.
– What blockade are you talking about?
-The one that large fishing fleets from all over the world established, throughout the Patagonian Sea, two hundred miles from the coast.
-Can we see that blockade today?
-Simply by playing with Google. The nighttime photographs taken by satellite show a line of light generated by that multinational and dismal fleet endangering the life at sea. In my dream, the Anglo-Argentinean patrols imposed their will and limited fishing allowances, in the name of a transcendental value: the heritage of humanity.
-So far your dream, Francis, honors the saint that has inspired you.
-Poor Saint Francis of Assisi.
-What steps should we take for your dream to come true?
-The first would be a solemn pact of no aggression.
-I’d propose a second one: the solemn establishment of a common burial ground to honor the fallen from both sides.
-I like the gesture: it would be similar to Abraham Lincoln’s foundation of the first national burial ground, with its famous prayer.
-And this was before the official end of the American civil war.
-And with a speech that lasted two minutes.
-He should be a role model for our politicians.
-What’s good, if brief, it’s twice as good.
-Then there would be a spectacular and generous gesture on behalf of Argentina.
-It surprises me. Neither your country nor mine is especially generous these days.
-Maybe a Pope could convince them. It is about the plain, unilateral and with no strings attached, granting of Argentinean citizenship to everyone born in the islands, if and when they want to obtain it, through a simple online application.
-But to us they are British.
-And they would not cease to be. Today dual citizenship is very common. They could travel with two passports. I have renewed mine as an Argentinian citizen, even though I’m the Vatican’s Head of State. Today citizenship and sovereignty are relative concepts, because of globalization.
-Well, Francis, in this exercise we’ve taken three steps: non-aggression, shared citizenship and military collaboration to safeguard the environment. As Queen I’d wish that by the end of this imaginary process, all Atlantic islands of the south, even if they’re part of Argentina, may also be part of the Commonwealth, as are so many countries that do not give up their citizenship because of it.
-I like the idea because I think there have been two types of British colonialism: a very unpleasant one, which is the imperial imposition upon native populations; and the other, more classic, which was the establishment of colonies with new residents. That was the case of Greek colonies in southern Italy, in the days of yore.
-And the thirteen American colonies, which were a handful in the eighteenth century.
-And among us Argentines, the Italian colonies in Santa Fe and the Jewish ones in Entre Ríos.
-Were there jewish gauchos?
-Certainly; and so why shouldn’t there be Argentinian kelpers?
-And what would be, Francis, the final goal of this imaginary tour?
-No less, Ma’am, than the custody of life in the magnificent extreme of an entire continent.
-An elevated purpose, Your Holiness.
-Elevated is our responsibility, Your Majesty.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *